IJSRD - International Journal for Scientific Research & Development| Vol.

4, Issue 02, 2016 | ISSN (online): 2321-0613

Dynamic Modeling and Control of Binary Distillation Column
1,2

Mehul Pragjibhai Girnari1 Prof. Vinod P. Patel2
Department of Instrumentation and Control Engineering
1,2
L.D. College of Engineering, Ahmedabad, 380015

Abstract— Distillation column has always been and will
continue to be one of the most important thermal separation
equipment used in various types of industries for various
applications, like in oil refineries, in water purification/
desalinization plants, in pharmaceutical industries etc.
Modelling and simulation of distillation column are not new
to the process and control engineer. The model used for
distillation column varies from the simple to quite complex,
depending on the assumption made in the material balance
and energy balance equations to describe the distillation
column behavior. This paper discuss about the dynamic
modelling of continuous binary distillation column in
Matlab tool and the response analysis while varying the
assumptions made while developing the dynamic model.
This paper also discuss about the tuning of PID controller
using different tuning methods which is job of control
engineer.
Key words: Binary, Distillation, Dynamic model, S-function
I. INTRODUCTION
Distillation is a thermal separation method for separating
mixtures of two or more substances into its component
fractions of desired concentration, based on differences in
volatilities or the boiling point difference of these
components by the application and removal of heat.
A simple distillation process is shown in the figure1 below. The sequence of process is also mentioned clearly.

Fig. 1: Binary distillation column operation
In order to achieve the purest form of a component
or to achieve the desired composition of a product
depending according to the requirement, we need to
manipulate & control various variables of the distillation
column such as temperature of trays, reflux flow rate,
distillate flow rate, vapor boil up rate and the pressure in the
column. These variables may vary in practice due to
different reasons.
This paper is organized as follows. Section-II gives
some basic details about the modelling of binary distillation
column by using the fundamental modelling approach.
Section-III gives the details about how we can simulate a
dynamic model of distillation column in Matlab tool.
Section-IV will show the steps to be followed to derive a
FOPDT model. Section-V will discuss about various PID
tuning methods. Section-VI shows response comparison in
terms of set-point tracking and disturbance rejection also
provides statistical analysis. Finally, in Section-VII and
Section-VIII, the conclusion is made and the work that can
be extended in the future is mentioned respectively.
II. DYNAMIC MODELING OF DISTILLATION COLUMN

Fig. 1: Simple distillation process
A simple two-product continuous distillation
column is shown in Fig. 2. The column has N stages on
which the vapor-liquid equilibriums occur. The feed enters
the column on the stage ?? . This stage divides the column
into a rectifying section and a stripping section. At the
bottom of the column there is a reboiler, which provides
energy to the column in order to produce vapor.
The mixture is heated to form a flow of vapor
rising up inside the column. In the stripping section, the less
volatile component is enriched while in the rectifying
section the more volatile component is enriched. The top
product is condensed by the condenser from which there is a
reflux flow back to the top of the column to enhance the
purity of the product.

For the complex processes, it is not economically feasible to
design the control system after installing the process plant.
So, the first step in the design of a control system for any
process should be the development of a process model.
From the dynamic model we can understand the behavior of
the system as well as we can predict how the system will
behave if certain conditions arises. Depending on that we
can design a control system prior to process system
installation.
The model of binary distillation column can be
obtained by using the differential equations which describe
the relationship between the various variables of the process.
Some of these variables act as disturbances, some as
controlled variables, some as manipulated variables and
some as uncontrolled variables. All these equations can be

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Dynamic Modeling and Control of Binary Distillation Column
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derived with the help of the laws of thermodynamics
(energy balance equations) and mass-balance equations.
Modeling of the distillation column is often
classified into three types as describe below:
A. Fundamental modeling method
In fundamental modelling method, the model is developed
based on the physical properties of the system, such as the
preservation of energy, mass and momentum. This method
of modeling has an advantage of global validity, accuracy
and it gives more detailed process understanding. However,
this modeling method is quite complex for the controller
design, because it requires a huge amount of computation
and simplifications.
B. Empirical modeling method
The empirical modeling utilizes the input and output data
from the operation of the column to build the relationship
between the input and the output. This method is also known
as “Black box modeling” because inner dynamics are not
considered. With this type of modelling, the understanding
of the inner dynamics of the column does not required. So,
the computation can be reduced.
But by using this technique, we must carry out
experiments on the real distillation column, and the results
may not be applied for another distillation column, even the
results from one distillation column can be different if the
distillation column’s conditions are different between the
experiment and the real operation of the distillation column.
C. Hybrid modeling method
The hybrid modeling (or the ‘grey-box’ modeling) combines
the fundamental modeling and the empirical modeling. This
method utilizes the advantages of both methods
(fundamental modeling and empirical modeling), but the
critical thing is that we must to decide for which part of the
model do we need to use fundamental modelling and for
which part to use empirical modelling.
Here, for this work I used fundamental modeling
method for the development of dynamic model for the
continuous binary distillation column. In order to develop
this model we need to make some assumptions. So, next
section will describe the assumption need to be made.
In the model of the distillation column the
following assumptions are made:
1) The feed contains only two components (Binary
mixture).
2) The column is perfectly insulated.
3) Constant relative volatility.
4) Constant molar flows.
5) No vapor holds up.
6) All the trays are ideal (100% efficient)
7) Linear liquid dynamics.
8) Equilibrium on all stages.
9) Pressure inside the column is fixed.
10) Total condenser and reboiler.
Here, for fundamental modeling, we will divide the
distillation model in four envelopes, which are:
1) Condenser
2) Reboiler
3) Feed tray
4) All other trays (except feed tray)

D. Envelope – 1: Condenser
A condenser is used to cool and condense the vapor, which
is leaving the top of the column. The condensed liquid is
stored in a holding vessel known as the reflux drum. Some
of this liquid is recycled back to the top of the column and
this is called the reflux. The condensed liquid that is
removed from the system is known as the distillate or top
product.

Fig. 2: Envelope-1 Condenser
The total material balance equation is:
?(??? )
= ???−1 − ??? − ?
??
The component material balance equation is:
?(??? ??? )
= ???−1 ???−1 − ??? ??? − ????
??

….. (1)
….. (2)

E. Envelope – 2: Reboiler
The heat is supplied to the reboiler to generate vapor. The
vapor raised in the reboiler is re-introduced into the unit at
the bottom of the column. The liquid removed from the
reboiler is known as the bottom product or simply, bottom.

Fig. 3: Envelope-2 Reboiler
The total material balance equation is:
?(?1 )
= ?2 − ?1 − ?
??
The component material balance equation is:
?(?1 ?1 )
= ?2 ?2 − ?1 ?1 − ??1
??

….. (3)
….. (4)

F. Envelope – 3: Feed tray
The liquid mixture that is to be processed is known as the
feed and this is introduced usually somewhere near the
middle of the column to a tray known as the feed tray.

Fig. 4: Envelope-3 Feed tray

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Dynamic Modeling and Control of Binary Distillation Column
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The total material balance equation at the feed stage (NF),
?(??? )
= ???+1 − ??? + ???−1 − ??? + ?
….. (5)
??
The total material balance equation at the feed stage (NF),
?(??? ??? )
= ???+1 ???+1 − ??? ??? + ???−1 ???−1 −
??
??? ???−1 + ???
….. (6)
Where,
F is the feed flow rate,
?? is the concentration of the light component in
feed

block we need to provide initialization data and dynamic
equations of mass and energy balances. An open loop model
of binary distillation column is shown in the figure below.

G. Envelope – 4: Other trays (except feed tray)

Fig. 7: Binary distillation column model in Matlab tool

Fig. 5. Envelope-4 all other general trays (except feed tray)
The total material balance equations on stage i is given by,
???
= ??+1 − ?? + ??−1 − ??
….. (7)
??
Where,
?? is liquid hold up on tray ? ,
?? is liquid flow rate,
?? is vapor flow rate that comes toward tray i.
The material balance for the light component on tray (i) is
given by,
?(?? ?? )
= ??+1 ??+1 − ?? ?? + ??−1 ??−1 − ?? ?? ….. (8)
??
Where,
?? & ?? is the composition of the light and heavy
component on a tray (i) respectively.
The composition of the heavy component is related
to the composition of the light component via the relative
volatility, which is given by the equation,
??1
?? =
….. (9)
1+(?−1)?1

The liquid flow dynamics is considered due to its important
effect on the initial response of the distillation column. The
liquid holdup given by the following equations,
? −?
?? = ?0? + ? 0? + (??+1 − ?0 )?
….. (10)
?
For I from 2 to ?? and
? −?
?? = ?0 + ? 0? + (??+1 − ?0? )?
….. (11)
?
For I from ?? + 1 to ?? − 1.
Where,
?0 is the nominal reflux flow,
?0? is the nominal re boiler hold up (kmol) on stage
i.
? is the time constant for liquid dynamics
=0.063(min)
? represents the effect of vapor flow on liquid flow.
III. MODEL SIMULATION IN MATLAB TOOL
The basic idea of this simulation model is taken from the
distillation model proposed by Skogested[4]. Here, for this
work simulation is performed in Matlab tool with the help of
S-function block. S-function block combines the advantages
of both i.e. Matlab Simulink and m-script. In S-function

Fig. 8: Internal view of Binary distillation model block with
S-function
The nominal values of distillation column dynamics are
shown in the table 1.
Parameter
Value
16
Total number of trays (?? )
7
Feed tray location (?? )
1
Feed flow rate (?)
0.5
Feed composition (?? )
1
Feed condition (?? )
1.5
Relative volatility (?)
0
Effect of vapour on liquid (?)
2.70629
Reflux rate (?)
3.20629
Vapor boil-up rate (?)
0.5
Distillate flow rate (?)
0.5
Bottom flow rate (?)
Table - 1. Steady-state data for distillation column dynamics
The steady-state values for the concentration of
light component at all trays for bottom to top tray is listed in
table-2 shown below that we can obtain by simulating the
column for 20000 minutes in Matlab tool.
Tray number
??
??
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

0.1192
0.1621
0.2106
0.2634
0.3181
0.3722
0.4233

0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5

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8
0.4581 0.5
9
0.4997 0.5
10
0.5478 0.5
11
0.6015 0.5
12
0.6590 0.5
13
0.7182 0.5
14
0.7764 0.5
15
0.8312 0.5
16
0.8807 0.5
Table - 2. Light component concentration values and holdup on each tray at steady-state
The relative volatility is ultimately the difference of
boiling points of MVC (More Volatile Component) and
LVC (Less Volatile Component).
The table-3. Shows values of an optimal relative
volatility (?) for different binary mixtures as listed. You
need to specify that particular value of relative volatility for
particular binary mixture in the simulation model.
MVC
LVC
Optimal relative
(boiling point
(boiling point in
volatility (?)
in ℃)
℃)
Benzene
Toluene (110.6)
2.34
(80.1)
Toluene
p-Xylene (138.3)
2.31
(110.6)
Benzene
p-Xylene (138.3)
4.82
(80.6)
m-Xylene
p-Xylene (138.3)
1.02
(139.1
Pentane
Hexane (68.7)
2.59
(36.0)
Hexane
Heptane (98.5)
2.45
(68.7)
Hexane
p-Xylene (138.3)
7.0
(68.7)
Ethanol
iso-Propanol
1.17
(78.4)
(82.3)
iso-Propanol
n-Propanol (97.3)
1.78
(82.3)
Ethanol
n-Propanol (97.3)
2.10
(78.4)
Methanol
Ethanol (78.4)
1.56
(64.6)
Methanol
iso-Propanol
2.26
(64.6)
(82.3)
Chloroform
Acetic acid (118.1)
6.15
(61.2)
Table - 3. Some optimal relative volatilities that are used
for distillation process design
The upcoming figures will show how the
concentration of light component at condenser and reboiler
varies when we vary variation in the different variables.

Fig. 9: Change in concentration due to 1% increase in reflux
flow rate (L)

Figure. 10: Change in concentration due to 1% increase in
vapor flow rate (V)

Fig. 11: Change in concentration due to 1% increase in feed
flow rate (F)

Fig. 12: Change in concentration due to 1% increase in feed
composition (?? )

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From the above responses, it is clear that the change in the
concentration of light component at condenser as well as at
reboiler is significant due to the 1% variation in the feed
composition (?? ) as compared to the same amount of
variation in the feed flow rate (?).

IV. FOPDT MODEL DEVELOPMENT
The FOPDT model parameters can be determined from the
actual process using a simple process reaction test. Several
methods have been proposed to calculate the dead time, and
time constant from the reaction curve. Here, for this work I
have used Tangent Plus One Point method, which was
proposed by C. Smith in order to find FOPDT model
parameters.
The procedure to obtain values:
1) If the system is in closed loop, then we need to make it
open to make it in manual mode of operation.
2) Give step change in input to process.
3) We will get S shaped response as shown in the figure
below.

Fig. 13: Change in concentration due to 1% increase in
relative volatility (alpha)

Fig. 16: FOPDT derivation

Fig. 14: Change in concentration due to feed tray location
(?? )is changed to 4 from 7
If the condition of feed gets changed then how the
concentration of light component gets affected that is shown
in the figure below.

Fig. 15: Change in concentration due to 1% increase in
?? (?? = 1.01)
Here, the value of ?? indicates whether the feed liquid is
completely saturated or not. i.e. ?? = 1 for saturated feed.

Fig. 17: FOPDT model response comparison
From this S shaped response we need to find values
like, Dead time (L), Time Constant (T), Static gain (K),
a=?/(? ∗ ?) etc.
Here, for this work I used tangent plus one point
method in order to derive a FOPDT model of binary
distillation column. After getting the values of the variables
mentioned above, we can get the approximated FOPDT
model for distillate and bottom product compositions as
listed in table-4.
FOPDT
FOPDT model for
FOPDT model for
model
distillate
bottom
equation

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?(?)
?(?)
?(?)
−(2.4115)?
−??
0.0427?
0.0573? −(1.9776)?
??
=
=
=
(11.3423)? + 1
([11.7761)? + 1
?? + 1
Table. 4: FOPDT model equations
V. PID TUNING METHODS
The tuning of PID controller refers to the process of finding
the value of the PID parameter (?????? ?? , ?? , ?? ), which
can provide optimum performances.
The oldest method is trial and error method, which
is simplest and easiest method but the problem is that it is
very time consuming and not reliable. Instead of that, there
are various methods available for PID tuning some of them
are listed below [11].
1) Ziegler-Nichols open loop test tuning method
2) Cohen-Coon tuning method
3) Internal Model Control tuning method
4) ITAE tuning method
5) Lambda tuning method
Controller ?????? ??????????
type
??
??
??
1
P
Very large 0
a
0.9
PI
3L
0
a
1.2
L
PID
2L
a
2
Table. 5: Ziegler-Nichols open loop test tuning method
?????? ??????????
Controller
type
??
??
??
1
( ) (1
?
P
Very large
0
0.35?
+
)
1−?
0.9
( ) (1
3.3 − 3?
?
PI
0
?
0.92?
1 + 1.2?
+
)
1−?
1.24
(
) (1
0.27 − 0.36?
?
PD
Very large
?
0.13?
1 − 0.87?
+
)
1−?
1.35
(
) (1
0.37 − 0.37?
2.5 − 2?
?
PID
?
?
0.18?
1 − 0.81?
1 − 0.39?
+
)
1−?
Table 6. Cohen-Coon tuning method
?????? ??????????
Controller
type
???
??
??
2? + ?
?
PI
0
?+
2?
2
2? + ?
??
?
PID
?+
2(? + ?)
2 2? + ?
Table 7. Internal Model Control (IMC) tuning method

Controller
type

???

?????? ??????????
?
??

PI
setpoint

1.030
? −0.916
?
0.586 ( )
− 0.165 ( )
?
?

PID
setpoint

0.796
−0.929
? −0.850
? 0.308 (?)
0.965 ( )
− 0.1465 ( )
?
?
?

PIdisturban
ce
PIDdisturbance

? −0.977
? −0.680

0.859 ( )
0.674 ( )
?
?
? −0.947
? −0.738
? −0.995
1.357 ( )
0.842 ( )
0.381 ( )
?
?
?
Table 8. ITAE tuning method
VI. RESPONSE ANALYSIS

In this section the response analysis is made for different
PID tuning methods. The following figures will show the
comparison of different PID tuning methods for set-point
tracking as well as disturbance rejection.

Fig. 18: Step-response comparison of different PID tuning
methods

Fig. 19: Set-point tracking comparison (SP changed from
0.98 to 0.96 to 0.99)

??
?

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Dynamic Modeling and Control of Binary Distillation Column
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Fig. 20: Disturbance rejection comparison (first 10%
decrease & then 10% increase in Feed flow rate)

Fig. 21: Disturbance rejection comparison (first 10%
decrease & then 10% increase in Feed composition)

Fig. 22: Disturbance rejection comparison (first 10%
decrease & then 10% increase in Feed condition)

Figure 24. Disturbance rejection comparison (first 10%
decrease & then 10% increase in vapor boil up rate)
The statistical analysis also made in terms of rise
time, settling time, overshoot and steady-state error as
shown in the table 8.
Tuning
???? ???? ???????? ?????????ℎ???
???
method
(?? )
(%)
(?? )
Z-N
3.4987
24.2660
1.5892
0
Cohen-Coon
3.4987
25.1904
1.5816
0
IMC
3.4987
33.8175
1.1829
0
ITAE
3.5115
34.4683
1.5791
0
(Set-point)
ITAE(Disturba
4.0355
43.8031
1.0825
0
nce)
Lambda
3.5251
40.1757
1.0181
0
Table - 9. Response analysis for different tuning methods
Also the comparison is made for performance indexes i.e.
RMS, MSE, IAE, ITAE, ISE, and ITSE etc. as shown in the
table 9.
Tuning method
IAE
ITAE
ISE
ITSE
Z-N
0.4147 3.229 0.01634 0.04669
Cohen-Coon
0.4146 3.311 0.01621 0.04444
IMC
0.4196 4.585 0.0153 0.03442
ITAE
0.4725 4.766 0.01727 0.05799
(Set-point)
ITAE (Disturbance) 0.5068 7.005 0.01726 0.05471
Lambda
0.4479 5.926 0.01539 0.04059
Table - 10. Performance index comparison
VII. CONCLUSION
The dynamics of distillation model, variation in the
assumptions are made in order to develop models that can
affect the response of process in a significant manner. So,
we need to keep in mind these things while developing the
model and controlling distillation column.
For this work, to control the distillate purity
(concentration of light component at condenser), CohenCoon PID tuning proves to be more effective for set-point
tracking as well as disturbance rejection.
VIII. FUTURE WORK

Fig. 23: Disturbance rejection comparison (first 10%
decrease & then 10% increase in reflux rate)

In this paper, it is shown that how we can develop the
dynamic model of binary distillation column in Matlab tool
and it is also shown that how the variation in different
parameters of the model can affect the concentration of light
component at the reboiler as well as at the condenser.
In order to control the composition of light
component accurately at both ends we need to find optimal

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values of PID parameters so that exact amount of reflux or
vapor rate to be updated in order to control the composition
at particular end. So, the future work will be tuning of PID
controller with advanced soft computing techniques like Ant
Colony Optimization (ACO) and Particle Swarm
Optimization (PSO) method.
REFERENCES
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